Agnipath: Protests spread to more states, over 360 trains canceled
Protests against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, the Centre's new armed forces recruitment program, continued for the fourth day. The movement has now spread to formerly untouched states like Punjab and Kerala as well. Indian Railways canceled 369 trains on Saturday as a result of the demonstrations, including 210 mail/express trains and 159 local passenger trains, authorities told PTI.
Why does this story matter?
- Officials claimed that the Agnipath scheme will open the door for significant recruitment in the defense forces.
- Notably, the Indian Army and other defense forces' recruitment processes were suspended two years ago, leaving hopefuls in a difficult situation.
- However, despite the Centre's announcement of certain amendments, the new program is drawing severe criticism from some quarters leading to violent protests across many states.
Agitation spreading to more states
Protesters shut down highways and railway tracks in West Bengal, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. Protests erupted in Uttar Pradesh, with arson and stone-pelting reported in various eastern districts, resulting in multiple arrests over the previous two days. During a bandh on Saturday, some protesters torched a railway station in Bihar as well as destroyed Ludhiana Railway Station in Punjab.
Protesters battled police during funeral procession of deceased Rakesh
In Telangana, the police and protesters fought during the funeral procession of Damira Rakesh, who was killed on Friday after the police opened fire on demonstrators at Secunderabad Railway Station. Meanwhile, the police arrested an owner of a coaching facility in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur that trains applicants for defense exams. A Subba Rao is accused of inciting youth to attack the Secunderabad Railway Station.
Protesters torched Taregana Railway Station in Bihar
Bandh supporters in Bihar's Patna and its surrounding areas were prevented by authorities from pushing shops to close. They retaliated against the police intervention by throwing stones. Protesters also set fire to Taregana Railway Station in the Masaurhi sub-division and a railway police van, PTI reported. There was also a crossfire and journalists covering the conflict were attacked.
Unrest reaches BJP-ruled Haryana and Punjab too
In Haryana, a BJP-ruled state, protesters set ablaze a car outside Mahendragarh Railway Station, triggering unrest. A similar demonstration was held in Sonipat, where a huge group of youngsters blocked the national highway. Youths vandalized railway property at Ludhiana station on the first day of demonstrations in Punjab. Protesters also gathered at Jalandhar's PAP Chowk against the Agnipath scheme, demanding its immediate repeal.
Massive marches held in Kerala, J&K
In Kerala, around 300 demonstrators marched to Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram, while 500 youngsters marched to the railway station in Kozhikode. However, both the demonstrations remained peaceful. In Jammu and Kashmir, Youth Congress activists took to the streets in solidarity with the protesting Army aspirants in the Jammu region, asking that the Agnipath scheme be scrapped immediately.